Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Book cover. Click to enlarge.

The first edition of Edward FitzGerald's
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the
astronomer-poet of Persia

In 1859, the amateur British scholar Edward FitzGerald published an immensely popular translation of the medieval Persian poet Omar Khayyám. A century later, the Ransom Center purchased two collections that document the ensuing Rubáiyát publishing phenomenon. Combined, they total over 1,000 items, including selected materials that predate the British translation. The collection ranges from Persian illuminated manuscripts and facsimiles to fine-press illustrated editions, musical scores, and dozens of parodies. Of particular note are the first printing of FitzGerald's translation, a 1900 miniature edition (at one time the smallest book in the world), many materials relating to the Omar Khayyám Club, and competing translations that followed FitzGerald's initial effort. The collection is valuable for scholars of many topics such as Victorian orientalism, illustration, fine printing, gift books, and British and American popular culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Rubáiyát printed materials are included in the UT library catalog; the Persian manuscripts are part of the Center's Eastern Manuscripts collection.


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